Everyone who has been on a diet experienced the same thing. You are losing fat, your face thins out, maybe you’re even starting to see your upper abs, but you still have that little piece of fat under your belly and your love handles don’t wanna go away. This leads to one of the most asked questions in the fitness world: What exercises burn belly fat?
Can you burn fat with specific exercises? Is spot reduction was a real thing?
If so, then we could just put on a waist trainer, do some sit-ups, and target that stubborn fat around our belly-button and those relentless love-handles at our waist. Let us tell you, that despite what you’ve read online these days, spot reduction isn’t real. Or is it kind of…?
Well, there is some good news. You can actually target those specific areas and balance them with the total fat-loss of the rest of your body. So what does this mean?
Converting fat into energy
If you want to burn belly fat, you need to make sure your body uses the fat from your body as energy. This is called fat oxidation. Simply explained, this means that fat oxidation is fat converting into human energy.
So before we continue, the first thing, which is very important, is that your body needs to be in a fat-burning-state. The second thing you need for losing fat around your belly, is one of the most important catalyst for fat burning. And that is blood flow! Blood flow is a necessity for fat oxidation.
So, here is the problem: Those stubborn area’s, which for most of us, is the area around our belly and hips, do not receive the same type of blood flow compared to the rest of our body. Therefore, those areas’s under perform in relation to our total-body fat-loss.
But, how do you know there is less blood flow in those specific area’s? Well, just touch your love handles, and your lower belly first thing in the morning, and compare the temperature with your upper chest for example. You will notice your chest will feel warmer than your lower belly. Why? Because of the difference in blood flow.
Are you still with us?
Burning stubborn fat
To target that stubborn fat you need to improve the oxidation in and around those areas
- Warming up your total body, with a solid 15 to 20 minutes routine!
- Train with adequate clothing, making sure your body is and stays warm, from head to toe!
- Train in a warm training environment
- Heat up those specific area’s you want to target.
Yes, a waist trainer can really help (but will never be the sole solution)
- Do localized exercises fore those specific muscle groups (Yes there is science backing this up)
This kinda looks like we are selling you spot reduction right? No, rest assured, we are not! This is trying to make the fat burning in the stubborn area’s to catch up to that of the rest of the body. You cannot burn fat around your belly while the rest of your body isn’t burning fat at all! But, remember: This only works, when the rest of your body is losing fat!
The best forms of exercise for burning belly fat:
OK, now you understand something very important when it comes down to burning belly fat. But what exercises or type of workout can you do to burn it off? Here are the best forms of exercise to burn that stubborn belly fat:
- Low-intensity steady state cardio (LISS)
- Full-body workouts
- High-intensity interval training (HITT)
1. Low-intensity Steady State Cardio
Low-intensity steady state cardio is like a slow jog or a casual walk, riding a stationary bicycle at low resistance at an easy pace or doing some forms of gentle yoga. When doing low-intensity steady state cardio, also referred to as LISS, your breathing should be steady and you should be able to have a conversation.
This form of cardio has been around for a long time and in the ’70s and ’80s it was wildly popular. Why? Because with LISS our human bodies can use fat in combination with oxygen as main fuel source. It’s also a very sustainable form of cardio and not as strenuous on your nervous system as high-intensity workouts can be.
The key thing to make your body burn as much fat as possible during this type of workout, is doing your low-intensity steady state cardio on an empty stomach. When you perform your LISS in a fasted state, your body will be much more prone to use fat as a fuel source. This is due to the absence of insulin. So, our advice will be to do this type of cardio first thing in the morning.
Benefits of LISS:
- Uses fat as main fuel source
- Performed during a fasted state, the fat burning effect gets elevated.
- Effective way for building cardiovascular endurance
- Better overall blood flow
- Losing fat while maintaining lean muscle mass
- Low risk of injury
- The way to-go for beginners
- Results in better exercise adherence (research)
- Allows for active recovery
- Gentle on your nervous system and can therefore be done (almost) every day
Drawbacks of LISS:
- Time-consuming when the body adapts
- Burns fewer calories than high-intensity workouts
LISS workouts examples:
- Slow jog or casual walk
- Gentle forms of yoga
- Riding a stationary bicycle at an easy pace
- Swimming laps
2. Full-body workouts
Another great form of exercise, for burning fat, is a full-body workout. And this has to do with the lymphatic system. The lymph system is a clear fluid, that moves through its own series of vessels, and it’s job is to deliver nutrients and clear out toxins. Swollen lymph nodes for example are a response to an infection.
What most people don’t realize is that fat is moving through the lymph system. Whenever we are burning fat it’s the lymphatic fluid which moves the ‘free fatty acids’ throughout the body so it can be used for energy.
What does this have to do with full-body workouts? Well, the lymphatic system isn’t a circulatory system. The lymphatic fluid requires movement. This means, that if you want to burn the maximum amount of fat during a workout you should move your entire body! Also, full-body workouts increase blood flow throughout your body, and therefore heating up those stubborn areas for better fat oxidation; like we mentioned earlier.
Benefits of Full-body workouts:
- The best weight lifting routine for burning fat
- Ideal for home workouts
- Less time-consuming than most weight lifting protocols
Drawbacks of Full-body workouts
- If not structured properly, it easily leads to over training
- More prone to injuries
- Less focus on weaker body parts
3. High-intensity interval training
HITT is a very popular form of exercise these days. And for a good reason. They are effective! But they won’t go without warning. HITT training has the potential to burn maximum calories in a minimum amount of time. It can be done as both strength and cardio training.
This type of training is not for everyone. It’s very though, both mentally and physically. We wouldn’t recommend this workout routine to beginners. This is for the advanced and professionals.
For those with some serious workout experience wanting to boost their fat burning this is very effective. But for the average person it can be too intense. If you are out of shape you need a slow and steady approach, not one that calls for 100 percent effort at maximum pace.
We don’t want to scare you away from HITT, but it should always be approached with caution. It is very effective for burning fat. It will improve your metabolic rate and therefore your overall calories burned. Also, the fat burning effect of these type of workouts will last for several hours after working out. They require a lot more recovery time, but you will burn a lot more in one session, compared to a low-intensity workout.
Benefits of HITT
- Burns a lot of calories
- Improves metabolic rate
- Gain strength and muscle
Drawbacks of HITT
- Prone to injuries
- Without proper rest it can cause a stress response in the body
- Not for beginners or anyone out of shape
So, the answer to the question: what exercises burn belly fat? is not about specific exercises, but all about workout routines that are optimized for burning overall body fat. If you want to burn belly fat, you need to make sure your body is in a fat-burning state! Then, and only then, you will be able to lose that stubborn fat in those specific areas. But now you know, you actually can target those specific areas by increasing the blood flow in and around those areas!
If you have any questions, please ask! We are always here to help.